Trenton – The state’s public corruption laws would be strengthened under terms of legislation authored by Senator Joe Cryan that was approved by the Senate today.
The bill, S-510, would clarify the law to specify that candidates for public office are subject to anti-bribery statutes. The courts have ruled in multiple cases that candidates and those who have been elected but not yet taken office can’t be convicted for bribery.
“The courts have reversed or rejected corruption cases because they interpreted current bribery laws as not applying to candidates for office,” said Senator Cryan (D-Union). “It is the legislature’s job to make the law, and make it clear that bribery before the results of an election is still bribery. I thank my colleagues for supporting this legislation that makes it certain that what wasn’t a crime previously will now be one.”
The courts have ruled in dismissing charges or reversing convictions that the bribery statute does not apply to an office that a person does not hold. Senator Cryan’s bill would clarify and strengthen the law.
It would expand the definition of “public servant” in the state’s anti-corruption laws to include anyone who is a candidate for public office and anyone elected but has not yet assumed office.
The bill would make bribery in “official and political matters” for these individuals a second-degree crime, punishable by five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000, unless the bribe is worth less than $200, which would be a third-degree crime.
The Senate vote was 37-0.